Garden Tour Season

It's Garden Tour - and Lilacs - Season

It's Garden Tour - and Lilacs - Season

The lilacs in my yard have been out for over a week.  Like most everything else, they’re early this year with this topsy-turvy up-is-down weather we’ve been experiencing.

I know they’re early because Lilac Sunday is held every year at the Arnold Arboretum on Mothers Day.  And Mum doesn’t get her day for two more weeks.

It seems that gardeners won’t have to worry that things haven’t bloomed by the time this year’s garden tours roll around.  I finally had a moment to update the garden tours page here so you can check out the upcoming Massachusetts garden tours in 2012.  The list seems a bit shorter – putting together house or garden tours is a huge undertaking for the groups that put them on.  Some have discontinued their tours, others have opted for an every other year schedule.

A garden tour is an opportunity to get new ideas for your yard and garden, to see private outside spaces that you otherwise wouldn’t, or just a great way to enjoy a spring or summer day.  Not to mention – your ticket purchase benefits local libraries, historical societies, museums, etc.

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Raised Garden Beds Talk at the Somerville Garden Club

Raised Garden Beds in a Community Garden in Cambridge

Raised Garden Beds in a Community Garden in Cambridge

Raised garden beds are popular with backyard farmers and gardeners in Somerville and Cambridge.  In a talk at the Somerville Garden Club on Wednesday evening, Jesse Banhazl will talk about raised garden beds as well as other options for growing produce in limited space – on roofs, on porches, or in small urban backyards.

Jesse Banhazl is owner and co-founder of Green City Growers, a Somerville-based business that helps to bring organic produce gardens to homes, schools and businesses.

The Somerville Garden club meeting and lecture is free and open to the public.  There is parking available or you can take the T to Davis Square and walk up Holland Street.

What: Raised Garden Beds Talk at the Somerville Garden Club meeting

When: Wednesday, April 11, 2012, 7:00 – 9:00 pm

Where: Tufts Administration Bldg., 167 Holland St, Somerville MA

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Sustainable Belmont – Green Garden Tour

Green Garden Tour in Belmont

Green Garden Tour in Belmont

This Sunday, Sustainable Belmont is sponsoring a “Green Garden Tour.”  The Belmont Green Garden Tour will showcase organic and sustainable gardens around Belmont.  There are eight private gardens and two public gardens on the tour.  Gardeners on the tour are growing herbs, fruits, vegetables, flowers and shrubs.  Their gardens attract a variety of birds and butterflies.  Features of yards on the tour include:

  • Rain barrels
  • Compost bins
  • Solar panels
  • Chicken coops
  • Beehives

You are encouraged to ask the host gardeners questions while visiting their gardens.  You’re bound to pick up some great ideas.

The Sustainable Belmont Green Garden Tour is scheduled for Sunday, September 18, 2011 from 11 am to 3 pm.   The tour will be held rain or shine.  It is free and open to the public.

Here is a pamphlet to download with addresses, info and a map of the Green Garden Tour in Belmont.

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Cambridge Pod Patrol

Join the Cambridge Pod Patrol - Pick Pods!

Join the Cambridge Pod Patrol - Pick Pods!

Black swallow-wort is flourishing in Cambridge and nearby cities and towns  so the Cambridge Pod Patrol will be hitting the streets and city green spaces.

The Cambridge Pod Patrol is a volunteer endeavor organized to spread the word about this highly invasive vine-like plant and to enlist residents’ help in stemming its spread throughout the city.

Black swallow-wort is a danger for birds and butterflies and its aggressive growth forces out native vegetation or garden plants.

Once you know what it looks like you’ll likely spot black swallow-wort all over the city.  It covers chain link fences, it grows in gardens and winds its way around other plants, it’s likely to sprout up anywhere there’s a bit of dirt.  It’s most distinctive features are green, shiny leaves in opposing pairs and, at this time of year, smooth greed pods that look like a cross between a milk weed pod and a peapod.

What can you do about black swallowwort when you see it? 

Pick pods!  Carry a bag with you when you’re out on a walk and pick all the pods you can find.  Tightly wrap the bag and dispose of it in the trash – not in a compost bin or with yard waste. 

And let your neighbors know about black swallow-wort in the neighborhood.  Here’s the Cambridge Pod Patrol flyer with more info and pictures of Black Swallow-wort.

Estimates suggest that a thick stand of black swallow-wort will produce 2,000 seeds per square yard.  Pods left on a dead vine will still open and send out seeds.

Unfortunately, black swallow-wort has made inroads at Fresh Pond Reservation.  This Sunday, July 10th, the Cambridge Pod Patrol will hold it’s debut event at Fresh Pond Reservation.  Come join the battle against Black Swallow-wort and help pick pods.  There’ll be information and refreshments for pod pickers.

The Cambridge Pod Patrol kickoff is scheduled for Sunday, July 10, 2011 from 1 to 4 pm at Fresh Pond Reservation.  Volunteers can meet in the Water Department parking lot and will head out around Fresh Pond to pick pods.

Black Swallow-wort – Help Spread the Word – Not the Seed!

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Vertical Gardening Lecture in Somerville on Wednesday

Vertical Garden in Cambridge

Vertical Garden in Cambridge

For those of us in the city with limited outdoor space finding room to garden can be a challenge.  On Wednesday, horticulturist Trevor Smith will speak to the Somerville Garden Club about vertical gardening and how it can be used in small urban spaces.

Smith’s lecture will touch on vertical gardening systems, how to install and maintain vertical gardens, and what plants to choose for yours.

Somerville Garden Club meetings are free and open to the public.

The vertical gardening lecture and Garden Club meeting is scheduled for Wednesday, June 8, 2011 at 167 Holland Street, Somerville, MA on the 2nd floor.  Parking is available and the Davis Square T stop is down the street.

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Garden Lecture in Somerville Tonight

Crocuses are the first sign of spring in Cambridge

Crocuses are the first sign of spring in Cambridge

You know what they say about April showers…  soon local gardens will be in full bloom.

The garden tour circuit has yet to kick off but come June there will be garden tours aplenty.

Tonight, to whet your appetite, Somerville gardener An Sokolovska will speak about storing and controlling water in the garden.  Sokolovksa’s garden, on last year’s Somerville Garden Club’s tour, makes use of cisterns, French drains, gutters and other methods to control water.

The lecture is part of the Somerville Garden Club’s monthly meeting.  All club meetings are free and open to the public.

The meeting takes place at 167 Holland Street, Somerville, MA on the 2nd floor tonight, Wednesday, April 13, 2011 from 7 to 9 pm.

The spring real estate market has kept me too busy to update my garden tours page.  Bookmark it though – I promise to get the info out there well in advance of this spring’s tours.  The house tour page has started to fill in for this year – can’t wait for the first tours!

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My Rhododendron Thermometer – Update

It's cold out tonight in Massachusetts

It's cold out tonight in Massachusetts

My rhododendron thermometer is back in business – and it is C-O-L-D out. 

The leaves on my rhododendron are curled tight as pencils.  It almost looked like the bush had died or like some of its branches were broken – the leaves are curled so tightly I really didn’t think it looked right.

But it’s just the effects of the super chilly temperatures today. It’s supposed to be below zero in Cambridge tonight.  My rhododendron thermometer isn’t sophisticated enough to give the exact temperature – simply a pretty good idea of just how frigid it is.

I think the bush looks amazingly good considering all the snow that was piled on it.  Clearly rhododendrons are a hearty and resilient lot. Mine has really bounced back and lived to give more weather reports.

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My Rhododendron Thermometer

Rhododendron bush buried beneath the snow

Rhododendron bush buried beneath the snow

In front of my house there’s a large rhododendron bush.  A lovely part of the landscape, it also functions as an unofficial “thermometer”.

When I go out in the morning or when I look out the window, I get a sense of the day’s temperature by scoping out the bush.

When it’s cold the rhododendron’s leaves curl tightly.  The more leaves that are curled and the tighter the curl – the colder the temperature.

It wasn’t until I looked over for a read on the day’s temperature that I realized my poor bush was bowed beneath this mound of heavy snow.  It’s difficult to tell by the photo but my rhododendron bush is about a third of it’s usual height.

So without benefit of my rhododendron thermometer – it’s really chilly today.

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